tv A Life Reconsidered CSPAN July 20, 2014 1:17am-2:16am EDT
of it and it's the best book i've read in 10 years and i want to say again that it's definitely your best work. >> thank you, we are adjourn for cocktails and meatballs. [inaudible conversations] >> you're watching booktv, nonfiction authors and books every weekend on c-span2. >> lynne cheney examines the philosophy and tenure at james madison. she discusses her book with her husband and warmer vice president dick cheney at the nixon presidential library in yorba linda california and this is a little under one hour.
of occasions and served in the nixon administration during the first term and am always pleased to visit is part of the world and be reminded of the very important time in our history and i was happy to be a part of his and his nation. we are here tonight and i should probably explain the outset why we are here together and the fact is that i was born in lincoln nebraska and in 1954 when i was 13 years old about going to the eighth grade, my dad moved the family to wyoming and he picked wyoming and it was a good thing because when i grow up together and i first took her out when she was 16 years old to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.
[applause] and if dad had picked montana instead of wyoming, of course i would never have married her and she would've married someone else ensures that the other night but then he would've been vice president of the united states. [laughter] >> i don't recall that that was one of the jokes. >> i am a freelancer at this point and we are here tonight to talk specifically about a magnificent book about james madison and has some great reviews and we are on the book circuit spoke to speak. and i am here and we had other books to write as well and publish. so now we wanted to have an opportunity for her to present
hers. it is a superb book about our nation's fourth president in the plan is that i will ask her questions and she will respond and at the end of that. lack of timely will open it up and take some questions from the audience as well. so let me begin by asking what made you decide james madison needed another autobiography max. >> before you get there, i want to say that i'm grateful for deck joining me on his to her and i wanted to refer to him as my arm candy. [laughter] and i have known i have been interested in madison for a long time and i had the privilege of serving on the bicentennial commission for the constitution in 1987. it was then that i first began to understand how magnificent his accomplishments were and yet how little recognized he was in terms of his political life.
it wasn't until five years ago that i became serious about writing a book and it has been a labor of love. i only hope that you will enjoy the book as much as i enjoyed writing it. he was the architect of the constitution and the bill of rights and crucial to the establishment of the first government under the constitution and he was president during the first war under the constitution. he performed if not magnificently, and all those jobs at least very well and at the end of his presidency, john adams was kind of a sour figure and not given to making compliments easily, he wrote that james madison's administration had covered itself in more glory than any of his predecessors which is a great compliment because his
predecessors were washington and jefferson and adams was out. i do think that he has been underappreciated and it has been so much fun. i know five years of labor doesn't sound like fun but discovering things and being able to put it into a form that i hoped would reach this audience as the book is called, reconsidering james madison's life. >> which was the most important contribution and if one, if you had to pick just one, what would it be? >> it would have to be the constitution. i think that he was a genius. the reason is that he was the kind of genius, what he had is that he was able to break through conventional thinking and when everyone else was thinking one way, he didn't necessarily accept that, he would think of other possibilities, and he did that in the case of the constitution
and establishing a great republic, which is what we are. so the conventional wisdom was that we had a great republic of people who voted for representatives of themselves and representative government and it would the to lose and fall apart unless you had monarchical power at the center. so madison thought that that was not good. he thought, in fact, the danger is that one faction will dominate and his genius was to see if you had many factions as there would be in the larger public than no single one was likely to become oppressive and that was the rationale for the constitution that was produced in philadelphia. so his genius was to see through
what everyone else believed time and again and to transform the world. >> you talk about his relationship with the other founders including george washington, as an example. >> sometimes we think of the founders sitting around having a polite conversation and all of them having the greater good in mind at all times. and it's much more interesting to realize them as they were, which is people who firmly believed in their point of view and were willing to fight to see it succeed. in the beginning he was washington's chief lieutenant and when the first government under the constitution began and this will be familiar to any of your politics, washington had an aide to write his inaugural address and not produced a 72 page disaster.
and so washington wrote to madison and asked him to please come to mount vernon. so he did so and he wrote the inaugural address of washington and did a very good job of it. after washington delivered the address, madison was leader of the congress wrote the response to washington. and he will congress' response to that. and so by this time he thought that he was so good at this kind of thing that he asked him to write washington's reply back. [laughter] >> it's hard to imagine how his voice was echoing off every wall and i'm not sure there's been another time in history when one man has been so influential at the beginning of an administration the way that madison was in the beginning.
>> if we talk about the constitution convention, obviously there were battles of various provisions in the constitution with articles one and two and three and it took a long time and many hours and days of work putting it all together. but can you cite the specific compromise and most important provision that they had argued about and were able to resolve the max. >> yes, it's a thing that we all learn in history about the big states and the small states and they wanted states to be represented a portion only according to the population. the small states one of the states to be represented and we all know the compromise. and so madison was appalled at that. he really thought that they should be proportionate of representation across the board and he had gone into the constitutional convention thinking it's a great threat to
the republic and he called them the evil states because they had been so irresponsible under the articles repressing religious freedom and rhode island was especially part of this and it was called road to the island. so turning out money than when they passed the laws that made it necessary for debt that had been incurred the states were texting one another and oppressing one another, actually and conducting their own foreign policy. so madison thought that this needed to be controlled and when it turned out that the compromise was part of this, he was very distrustful and it took him a couple of days to get around to accept that.
>> what made them think they needed a vice president? [applause] >> that is kind of an eternal question, isn't it? [applause] >> well, it was definitely the electoral college and every electoral area had to vote. and so the alternate at that point was to let the congress choose the president and just imagine how different that would've been if they were cheesy. so i don't think you would've had a nixon either but plenty of speakers of the house bill go on to become president. and so everyone gets two votes in the big states and the small states and the small states are worried that the big states will elect the president. swiss wage their concern, the
deal was made that you can only cast one vote in one of those two votes were someone from your own state and the other one had to be cast for someone for another stay which would give the smaller states a better chance. so then you have all played this kind of game, if you want that one vote for your own guy and own state to be important, throw away the second vote and you ask done that on jim that doesn't have a chance. to prevent that, they invented the vice presidency. the idea is that the person got the second highest number of votes would then become vice president and that seemed like a pretty good idea. but then they started talking about well, what was he going to do. [laughter] and it's so interesting to see how this builds up.
he decided that he needed a job and that they would make him president of the senate. so by the end of the constitutional convention there were two delegates that were so worried about the vice president and the executive branch being president of the senate about his violating the separation of powers to the delegates, this includes randolph of virginia, average gary and george mason of virginia, specifically cited it as reasons they went signed the constitution and they called it that dangerous office. so there you go. [laughter] >> during the course of his career in the terms of implementing the constitution, alexander hamilton became an
important player in all about and of that and can you talk about what it was that led to their major disagreement and confrontations? >> maybe it's important to understand that he and hamilton were not ready to backley but firmly colleagues. he wrote the federalist papers together with a little help. so the story of this is so if you don't mind -- it is so interesting because it was done at such speed in such haste and as i was explaining to a college , and you can appreciate, that what madison did during one period of time, 40 days, it was the equivalent of writing a 10 page paper every other day. and that doesn't seem impossible in the papers became immortal.
so writing philosophy and writing politics, writing in an effort to convince people to support the constitution at breakneck speed, it was putting the beginning parts of essays into print often before they were finished. so madison and hamilton respected one another until hamilton became secretary of the treasury under george washington and began to make his financial planning career. so madison was troubled from the beginning but he eventually won the establishment of a national bank came up, he was deeply concerned that he didn't think the bank would be a bad idea. but at the constitutional convention he thought it was such a good idea that he had proposed giving the congress the
power to grant charters which is what you needed need if you want to establish a bank. however, they turned that opportunity down and congress didn't have that power and that was madison's problem. hamilton was simply running roughshod over the strip number of powers of congress have been given and there was no power charters and therefore madison thought that he should not doubtless a bank. he lost the fight but he went on to win the war, agassi would say and he established the first opposition political party. parties didn't have any better reputation than than they do now and again it was counterintuitive and a against the conventional wisdom that says that parties were divisive and noisy and we didn't want them in the republic and madison said yes, we do.
a government without opposition is a little bit more of a monarchy and so he organized this in order to change and defeat the way that hamilton was trying to carry the government to make it so strong that madison thought it was something that the constitution having consecrated. by finding this, he managed to get jefferson elected president in 1800 and jeffersojefferso n like madison was a small government guy. >> one of the most important functions that we have seen in recent years throughout her his eerie is the role of commander-in-chief including who's going to be in charge of the military and as you mentioned in the opening, madison was the first president to ever have to conduct a war under the constitution. and so the way that that was their strikes me as a great
story. >> the constitutional convention was just about to go through and the congress among its delegated power had the power to make war and so his mind was so quick and his intellect vast what would be the results of various proposals. so he changed this to declare that congress would have the power to declare war. and he had been a member of the confederation congress where there was no executive and congress would decide and say,
some like him and then they realized that there was more trouble in the north and it simply wasn't, it was in the way to run a war. so madison that congress has the power to declare war is what that did was make him the commander in chief once it had been declared. >> how did he do as a commander-in-chief? they burned down the capital and burn on the white house malaise he could commander-in-chief in a rematch he was patient. and so like lincoln, he had trouble with generals and in the war of 1812, the generals were those who had served in revolution and they were getting a little bit long in the tooth. and they weren't as brave as they might've been in their younger years red one who was
supposed to invade canada near detroit became so alarmed at the rumors that turned out to be true that the british had a strong alliance with the indians and the great warriors that americans might have to face this but he turned around and not only invaded canada but this is well. so as they were with lincoln, they were a problem. but not so with admirals. they had eight or nine by the war of 1812 and the british had more than 100 warships. but the navy had trained all that time and broad new and younger blood and you can't just told us up again, so the navy
kept going all that time and as a result they were making magnificent victories in the war of 1812 and people like this were fleeing from the british and indian allies and one who was related to the general, isaac, he was commanding the constitution and the uss constitution most famously encountered the british and just, you know, wiped her out. and so part of the reason is the cannonballs bounced off the side of the constitution, which is why she was a part of this. so they had splendid naval victories and toward the end of
the war we were developing this. and so he suffered through that and i'm not sure what choice commander-in-chief has been that. and absolutely he held to celebrate the glories of the navy also changing his mind and he was not afraid to do that when circumstances changed and he had long regarded armies and navies as too expensive and as a threat to the republic to the easily used and by the end of the war of 1812 he was suggesting that congress provide for a standing army. >> how would you evaluate this endlessly viewed in the same way as the public successfully or not very successfully enact.
>> his contemporaries, madison was one of those fortunate few that left the presidency highly regarded by all of his countrymen and they regarded him and we don't pay much attention to the war of 1812. but it was regarded by americans as evidence that we could and should, but by gosh, be recognized on the world stage and we deserve to be on the world stage and the rest of the world begin to do that, as you pointed out, after andrew jackson beat the heck of the british at the battle of moral and. >> one of the most intriguing aspects of the research had to do with madison's hell and i think it's a major contribution from a historical standpoint as well. he had an affliction throughout his entire life and yet he was
able to achieve these phenomenal objectives under extraordinary circumstances and it was one of the most important founders. can you tell us about that and what his problem was and how he dealt with it? >> you know, it was one of those puzzles to me in the beginning and people called him shy, which he was in. he was simply reserved. and they said that he was sickly. you could see that he was sick from time to time but he also between the episodes of whatever it was, he was enormously energetic taking trips traveling when travel wasn't easy between his home in the capital. and undertaking those routine treads that i have often thought that i thought none of them
could manage. so he was on horseback for 60 hours when washington was earned. and there is a letter it that he wrote toward the end of his presidency that hasn't been published and i didn't discover it. but i was the first person to pay attention to it, it is a draft of an autobiography in which he says that he was subject to sudden attacks somewhat resembling epilepsy and suspending the intellectual functions. and well, nobody had taken it seriously, really, and i think people wanted to shy away from it because of kind of a difficult topic to figure out and i think i decided i would take him seriously and you can
see where he did have these episodes in his description, in fact, fit quite well with what knowledge is today call complex partial seizures which is a mild form of epilepsy. first he had seizures as a child and he is often part of the syndrome that involves epileptic seizures and as an adult and so he had this into all of that. and he suffered the first at princeton in college. so once you say that he knew he was talking about and we're taking him at his word, he fell under this. matter of the despondency when he worried that he wouldn't live
long and he was lucky that he found doctors and his family urged him to exercise, it didn't end the seizures but he was remarkably bad and i think he decided once he had taken his fit physical health, he decided to take his soul in hand. and he was not going to believe all the things that people said about epilepsy. people said if you had epilepsy or seizures dissembling that, that you are evil and full of sin or possessed by the devil. and madison finally just decided that he didn't have to believe that. and i think that this fed into his freedom of religion people
can believe whatever religion or no religion into his strong support for freedom of conscience and nobody should have to believe anything if he or she thinks is wrong. that idea liberated him and i think helped to liberate us all because he lied the way for freedom of conscience for intellectual freedom more than any other founder including jefferson. >> would have been to the autobiography? that he not finish it? >> no, he didn't. it's just a draft. he will write and say, would you tell me something about yourself and his fellow wanted to publish them and so he started the autobiography, but he did not finish it. subsequently he decided not to talk about his epilepsy because
it was so demonized that he decided it was just more trouble than it was worth at the end of his presidency. >> he still had his amazing presidency. >> i really do think that seeing him as having complex partial seizures explains in between he was perfectly well and full of energy. so it's just phenomenal. >> don't you love dolly? well, she was beautiful and men stopped in the street of philadelphia when she walked past because she was so beautiful. she had dark hair and pale skin and blue eyes and ruby red lips and the whole package. and madison was smitten when he
saw her on the street and he asked his good friend about her and his good friend ehrenberg. they had gone to princeton together and this is before he got into trouble. he asked him to introduce him to dolly and she received him in her parlor and she wore a mulberry red dress and glass beads and they married a few months later and she was a political asset. i'm always skeptical about how important they are, but i'm not sure anymore if it is as important as it might've been or we might have thought it is. and so they aren't central to this but dolly was because in those days the congressional caucuses picked the presidential
nominees and there were no conventions but the pocket picked the nominees and dolly made all of those very happy. they were miserable and they all lived in the sporting houses and one senator said that we are in runcible from talking nothing but politics from morning to night. there was no place to go but there is one club in washington specializing in dancers and i'm not sure either but maybe tightrope walkers i mean, that is my story. i don't know. and so these men were just so happy when the madisons opened the doors of their house and welcomed then to the party. they played cards and dolly took this alongside henry clay and it
was just warm and inviting and they didn't mind if you didn't talk politics. jefferson didn't like people to talk politics around him, he liked being smooth and calm and so he didn't invite people from both parties to dinner. he would only invite people from one party at a time. some people loved dolly and she loved them and they began to feel not only great respect but there's even contemporary testimony for her having been not an insignificant part of his nomination in 18 away. >> in august, as i mentioned, tell us what was the high point
of those 50 years? >> i'm going to repeat the question, what was the high point of those 50 years? >> i knew it was dangerous to have you asking questions. [laughter] >> one thing that i can think of really present you an ally that i think people don't often see and that is darth vader, that's the image. [laughter] but so let me tell you he is a real romantic and for the 50th anniversary of her risqué areas that would've been 1958. and so dick arranged a surprise party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our first date.
all husbands in the audience, try to top that because it's very special. he even had the good sense to tell me that we were going to the british ambassadors for dinner. so you don't want to take someone to a surprise party especially the woman doesn't have on a nice dress and you don't want to take her if her hair is in rollers or whatever the equivalent is. and he told me the story in advance and so we always sit at the head table so i was sat next to the british ambassador. and so is dick put it, had to leave him in.
and he had to tell him the cover story and he didn't say a word and it was really a wonderful night and he had a cake made that was tall and had a body sticking out of it with blond hair. but he did that because on our first date i wore a red formal dress with a big red skirt. [applause] >> are you blushing? [laughter] >> just like dolly madison. one more question and then we will open it up to the audience and this is difficult, obviously. but what was madison's greatest is a partner with respect to the
constitution in those formative years in the republic? >> well, he thought it was probably the best that they could do and so he became a defender. but throughout his life he hated slavery and he wrote a letter as a young man and said i will do everything i can to become independent of slavery and they lived in independent light in which they wouldn't be dependent upon that institution and so he tried, but he didn't have a long time to try at it because he became involved in public life in creating the constitution and so forth. so he didn't succeed. jefferson hated slavery and he also didn't succeed at freeing himself from it. i don't think that he had such a
firm goal in mind as madison did. but at the end of their lives they both died owning slaves and you can see towards the end of his life, he clings desperately to the only thing he could think of the might help just be american colonization society and one of the problems by the 1830s was that if you freed slaves they couldn't stay in virginia because there was a lot that prevented that. and so there was this idea of finding a place in africa for them to go to that area, one of which they thought of it as their home. and they had been in virginia as long as they had.
thinking that they could give them the kind of hope that he had had as a young man. >> case they weren't about a madison were here tonight in a would he think that we had been true to the basic principles embodied in his work and that. >> i think that he would be appalled at the size and scope of the federal government. you would think that we moved far away from the limited powers we were given by the constitution to the federal government and he might be somewhat gratified, although his is a planet would be much greater at seeing ways in which the constitution does so prove itself relevant time and again and earlier i was telling some people a story that just occurred to me in the last few weeks that the supreme court is
considering a case that involved whether the police should have the authority to urge her cell phone and things copy for a traffic violation and there were two instances in which this happened in those two cases are argued before the supreme court and it's interesting. when i mention this they will say that is wrong or that is right and maybe the guy whose job is a terrorist. so what is interesting than what i try to emphasize most of all is that that's not how we try to decide things about whether you think that oh, that's right or wrong and we turn to the constitution to make these decisions from the supreme court justices will go back to the constitution that was once so long before but the justices will have to go back to the
fourth amendment, which madison wrote that talks about citizens not being object to unreasonable search and seizure. so he would be gratified, i think, that the constitution still lives although there is an effort to ignore it. >> thank you. >> let's think when and vice president dick cheney for being here today. [applause] >> they have agreed to a few questions, which we will be before the book signing and i will start with this young man who is from one school enact. >> [inaudible] smack what is your question? >> you talked about how he was viewed by the public, whether you liked him or didn't like him in the way that he kind of
started the government? >> if he were alive today, he would not be the fellow that although that everyone else out of the way. so i don't think that all of his deeds in the public were fully appreciated by his fellow citizens and certainly by the time the president he was over he was deeply appreciated and his contemporaries were most enthusiastic about his job as the commander-in-chief and i do think that bad is a big part of it. >> from corona delmar high school. >> what is the most mythic and domestic precedent? >> significant? >> yes, his significant domestic